Yusuf’s Peace train project

Monday 05 September 2022

The Peace Train “Chugger” sent by British singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) to the city of Christchurch will have its first public outing at South Hagley Park this Sunday.

Yusuf’s initial act of compassion following the 2019 mosque attacks was to travel to Christchurch, where he gave a raw, live acoustic performance of his 1971 hit ‘Peace Train’ at the Remembrance Service, two weeks on.

In July last year, Mahia Te Aroha - The Christchurch Invitation was launched. Yusuf’s Peace Train project described the initiative as a kindred movement, inspired by the same core teaching of spreading peace and feeding others.

‘We pray that it [Mahia Te Aroha] encourages those in Christchurch and beyond to continue the great example your city has started, and leaves a legacy of light and love that promotes hope and spreads peace,’ Yusuf said of the launch.

Mahia Te Aroha Co-founder Ben Gresham, through his pre-March 15 connections with Yusuf’s Foundation, had been informed in the months after the attacks, that the singer wanted to send his second peace train to the children of Christchurch. The first is in Turkey’s capital, Ankara.

‘When Yusuf Islam’s son-in-law told me this news, it cemented for me his sincerity in wanting to support Christchurch, and the need to honour this in the best way possible,’ says Ben.

‘It also highlighted the international significance of the positive response that followed the attacks and the importance of enabling our children to connect and learn from this.’

‘It’s only a little thing, a little chugger, but it’s a sign of my connection with your beautiful country, your beautiful people, and the hearts that have given so much to the world through this example,’ Yusuf Islam said in a video message at the launch of Mahia Te Aroha - The Christchurch invitation.

Yusuf’s inspiration was the extraordinary local response of support, compassion and humanity in the aftermath of the terrorist attack. The customised electric mini-train symbolising a journey of hope for next generations.

As the Peace Train is officially launched, Mahia Te Aroha is inviting all New Zealanders to consider small acts of compassion that they can contribute to a stronger society where all feel that they belong.

Mahia Te Aroha was founded on a universal teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, that people spread the greetings of peace, feed the poor and needy, be kind to their relatives, and pray when others are asleep. We see these as four everyday actions: Spread Peace, Share Kai, Reconnect and Reflect.

A team of 40 volunteers will help run the Christchurch City Council-managed Peace Train. It is 13-metres long and can carry around 16 people, including adults. The train is wheelchair accessible and will ride around the pathway of South Hagley Park.

The Peace Train makes its debut from 10am to 4pm this Sunday, along with activities, performers, displays and information from The Disarmament and Security Centre, InCommon and Mahia te Aroha. From there, it will run every first and third Sunday of the month, except in winter.